Hindu Muslim Conflict History Essay

Hinduism is a diversity-filled socio-religious way of life of the Hindu people of the Indian subcontinent, their diaspora, and some other regions which had Hindu influence in the ancient and medieval times. In Hinduism God can be worshiped in the name one believes or in the form one believes and allows idol worship while Islam does not, hence Hinduism's concept of God contradicts the concept of Allah, the Islamic God. Islam is a monotheistic religion in which the supreme deity is Allah (Arabic: الله‎ "the God": see God in Islam), the last Islamic prophet being Muhammad, whom Muslims believe delivered the Islamic scripture, the Qur'an. Hinduism mostly shares common terms with the dhārmic religions, including Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism. Islam shares common terms with the Abrahamic religions–those religions claiming descent from Abraham–being, from oldest to youngest, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Baha'i Faith.

The Qur'an and the Hadiths are the primary Islamic scriptures. The scriptures of Hinduism are the Shrutis (the four Vedas, which comprise the original Vedic Hymns, or Samhitas, and three tiers of commentaries upon the Samhitas, namely the Brahmanas, Aranyakas and Upanishads[1]); these are considered authentic, authoritative divine revelation. Furthermore, Hinduism is also based on the Smritis, including the Rāmāyana, the Bhagavad Gītā, and the Purānas, which are also considered to be equally sacred.

Hinduism and Islam share some ritual practices such as fasting and pilgrimage, but differ in their views on apostasy, blasphemy, circumcision, consanguineous marriages, idol making, henotheism, social stratification, vegetarianism, and Ahimsa as a virtue. Their historical interaction since the 7th century has witnessed periods of cooperation and syncretism, as well as periods of religious violence.

Comparison between Islam and Hinduism[edit]

Theology and concept of God[edit]

Islam is a system of thought that believes in absolute monotheism, called Tawḥīd.[2] Muslims are required to affirm daily, as one of the five pillars of Islam, in Shahada, that is "There is no god but Allah, Muhammad is the messenger of Allah."[3][4]

Hinduism is a system of thought that believes in varied traditions. In the Upanishads, one popular interpretation is the Advaita Vedanta tradition. It is absolute monism. A person finds the truth when realizing his/her true nature or the pure soul or self (atman). When the person is devoid of ignorance the person realizes that their inner self (atman) is the Brahman (the ultimate reality). Till the person realizes this truth, the person is usually of ignorance and therefore thinks everything around them is real and indulges in it, when it's actually not and is an illusion (maya). The Brahman which is absolute and pure and the atman which is absolute and pure also are the same in this school of thought. When the person singularly focus on 'I' and indulges in self-enquiry, study of texts, ethical perfection and jnana and the self, they realize the Brahman and don't depend on the material.

Scriptures and messengers[edit]

The scriptures of Islam are the Qurān and the Hadiths.[5] Muslims believe that Muhammad was the last messenger, and Quran was the last revelation from God to the last prophet.[6] The hadiths contain the Sunnah, or the reports of Muhammad's life, sayings, actions and examples he set. The Quran and the Hadiths are considered in Islam as the source of Islamic law, or Sharia.[7]

Hinduism has no traditional ecclesiastical order, no centralized religious authorities, no governing body, no prophet(s) nor any binding holy book.[8][9] Spiritual knowledge of Hinduism is contained in texts called Shruti ("what is heard") and Smriti ("what is remembered"). These texts discuss diverse theology, mythology, rituals, rites of passage, philosophy, and other topics. Major scriptures in Hinduism include the Vedas, Upanishads (both Śruti), the Epics, Puranas, Dharmasutras and Agamas (all smriti).[10][11]


Pilgrimage is found in both religions, Hajj to Mecca in Islam, while Kumbh Mela and Tirtha Yatra in Hinduism.[12] Muslims performs 7 rounds around Kaaba during Hajj which is called Tawaf.[13] Hindus also perform one or more rounds around the center (Garbhagriya) of a temple (one to twenty-one[14]),[15][16][17] which is called as Parikrama (known in Sanskrit as pradakśiṇā). Both of them are commonly called circumambulation.[18][19]

By some members of the Ahmadiya Muslim Community, HinduAvatarKalki is believed to be the Islamic Prophet Muhammad; some of the Muslim scholars and a few of the Hindu scholars[20][21] also argued that kalki is mentioned indicating Muhammad in some Hindu scriptures.[21][22] However, most of the Hindu scholars widely discarded it as a false theory, claiming that Kalki is supposed to arrive at the end of Kali Yuga, not in the beginning.



Main article: Apostasy in Islam

Apostasy, that is a condition of Islam for a Muslim and conversion to another religion or atheism, is a religious crime in Islam and sometimes punishable with death.[23][24]

Hinduism allows freedom of conscience. A Hindu can become an atheist, or change beliefs when he or she wants.[8][25] Both religions state that there should be no compulsion in religion even though many Islamic scholars call for punishment for leaving Islam.[26]


Main article: Islam and blasphemy

Blasphemy against God and against Muhammad is a religious crime in Islam.[27] The Quran in verse [Quran 5:33–34] and many Hadiths of Islam discuss blasphemy and its punishment.[27] A variety of actions, speeches or behavior can constitute blasphemy in Islam.[28] Some examples include insulting or cursing Allah or Muhammad, mockery or disagreeable behavior towards beliefs and customs common in Islam, finding faults or expressing doubts about Allah, improper dress, drawing offensive cartoons, tearing or burning holy literature of Islam, creating or using music or painting or video or novels to mock or criticize Muhammad are some examples of blasphemous acts. Punishment can range from imprisonment, flogging to execution.[28][29]

Open discussion and criticism of spiritual thoughts, ideas and deities is allowed in Hinduism.[30] The concept of "divine blasphemy" or "heresy" does not exist in Hinduism, and ancient Hindu texts make no provisions for blasphemy.[31][32]

Caste and creed[edit]

Main article: Caste system in India

Hindu texts such as the Manusmriti segregate people through social stratification called the caste system. Caste System is cultural to India and not specific to Hinduism.[33] Islamic texts do not segregate Muslims by caste, however in India Muslims also have their own caste system including untouchables. Islamic texts such as the Hadīth, however mention the prophecy of the Muslim Ummah being separated into 73 sects. This stratification is from the book of the Prophet - the Hadīth. Thus, in prophetic tradition it is believed that despite the inherent division there is always a majority which retains the correct belief and practice of Islam, a group singled out from the others and on the path to attain salvation - Ahl al-Sunnah wa٬ُl-Jamāٝah [34][35][36]

While Hinduism texts do not list thousands of castes, in practice, the Hindu caste system has been described variously as four Varnas or as thousands of endogamous hereditary groups called jātis.[33] Similar to the Hindu caste structure of four Varnas, in practice, Muslims in South Asia developed a caste system that divided the South Asian Muslim society into three: the foreign-descended Ashraf Muslims, the local Ajlaf converts, and the converted Arzal untouchables at the lowest rung.[37][38] The term "Arzal" stands for "degraded" and the Arzal castes are further subdivided, like Hindu jatis, into Bhanar, Halalkhor, Hijra, Kasbi, Lalbegi, Maugta, Mehtar etc.[38][39][40] Scholars[41][42] state that caste-like social stratification is also found in Islam outside South Asia.[43][44]


Khitan (circumcision) of males is required in Islam. The Qur'an itself does not mention circumcision explicitly in any verse, but it is mentioned in the Hadiths of Islam. Muslim commentators consistently interpret Islamic scriptures as making male circumcision obligatory.[45]

Circumcision is not a religious requirement in Hinduism.[46]

Consanguineous marriage[edit]

Consanguineous marriage are those where the bride and groom share a grandparent or near ancestor.[47] Hinduism forbids consanguineous marriage, and strongly recommends seven degrees of biological separation between bride and groom.[48] But in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, consanguineous marriages are very common among Hindus. In Tamil Nadu, some communities allow a Hindu girl to marry her mother's younger brother while in Kerala, marriages between first cousins are very common.[49] Arranged endogamous consanguineous marriage are very common in Islam, particularly first cousin marriages, followed by second cousin marriages.[50] About 25 to 40% of all marriages in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and UAE are first cousin marriages; while overall consanguineous arranged marriages exceed 65 to 80% in various regions of the Islamic Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia.[51][52]


Main article: Sati (practice)

Sati was a cultural practice in certain North Indian communities where a widow immolated herself on her husband's pyre, or committed suicide in another fashion shortly after her husband's death.[53][54] It is not permitted in the Vedas or Upanishads, but some of the man-made Smriti scriptures indicate sati as being allowed or a prerequisite. Most scholars disagree it as being part of Hinduism because of its absence in the Vedas and the prohibition of suicide in the Sruti.

Islam does not allow such customs or rituals.


Islamic scriptures, in its history and unlike Hinduism, compelled the payment of a special tax called Jizya from dhimmi, the non-Muslims who live in a Muslim state.[55][56] Jizya was a tool of social stratification and treasury's revenue from non-Muslims.[56] Jizya was a reminder of subordination of a non-Muslim under Muslims, and created a financial and political incentive to convert to Islam.[56][57]

There is no such a concept in Hinduism.


The Quran and the Hadiths permit the institution of slavery of non-Muslims in Islam, using the words abd (slave) and the phrase ma malakat aymanukum ("that which your right hand owns").[58][59] Under Islamic law, Muslim men can have sexual relations with female captives or concubines and slaves with or without her consent.[60][61] Slaves, in Islamic belief, were master's property and the slaves did not have a right to own property, right to free movement, right to marry without their owner's permission, or right to consent.[62][63][64] Islam, in some cases, encouraged a slave's manumission, but only after a non-Muslim slave first convert to Islam.[65][66] Non-Muslim slave women who bore children to their Muslim masters became legally free upon her master's death, and her children were presumed to be Muslims as their father.[65][67] Aurangzeb, the Mughal Emperor, hired Muslim scholars to study the Quran and the Hadiths and write down the Islamic law for India in late 17th century. The resulting document was called Fatawa-e-Alamgiri, and it dedicated many chapters on the rights of Muslim men to own and buy non-Muslim slaves for work and sex.[68][69]

The practice of slavery in early and late Vedic era of Hinduism is undocumented. Arrian, the Greek historian who chronicled India about the time of Alexander the Great, wrote in his Indika,[70]

The Indians do not even use aliens as slaves, much less a countryman of their own.

— The Indika of Arrian[70]

However, some Hindu texts use the term dasa. Some scholars translate this as slave,[71] while other scholars have translated it as servant and religious devotee.[72][73] Arthashastra text of Hinduism dedicates a chapter to dasa where a financially bankrupt individual may apply and become a servant of another. Arthashastra grants a dasa legal rights, and declares abusing, hurting and raping a dasa as a crime.[71][74]

In South India, a devadasi ([servant of deva (god) or devi (goddess)] error: {{lang-xx}}: text has italic markup (help)) is a girl "dedicated" to worship and service of a deity or a temple for the rest of her life. The dedication takes place in a Pottukattu ceremony which is similar in some ways to marriage. Originally, in addition to taking care of the temple and performing rituals, these women learned and practiced Sadir (Bharatanatya), Odissi and other classical Indian artistic traditions and enjoyed a high social status as dance and music were essential part of temple worship.[75][76][77][78]

Food-related conflicts[edit]

Islam has restrictions on food, such as how the meat is prepared.[79] Halal meat is prepared by ritual slaughter that involves cutting the jugular veins of the animal with a sharp knife. This leads to death via bleeding.[80] Meat from animals that die of natural causes or accident is not allowed. Beef is a sought after meat among Muslims, but they strictly avoid pork and alcohol.[81][82]

Hinduism, with its emphasis on non-violence against all creatures, tends to be vegetarian, and lacto-vegetarian meals are common. However, food habits are left as a choice for Hindus. There are varied opinions regarding the permissibility of eating meat in Hinduism, depending upon the interpretation of the Hindu scriptures. Vegetarianism is a choice for most Hindus, although some sects emphasize vegetarianism. Some Hindus consider violence against animals, that is used to produce any meat, so unacceptable that they avoid eating with non-vegetarians. Most observant Hindus strictly avoid cow-based beef, but some may eat water buffalo-based beef.[81]

The manner in which an animal is slaughtered in Islamic rituals is considered cruel and barbaric by Hindus, as Hindus consume Jhatka meat. Jhatka is meat from an animal that has been killed instantly, such as by a single strike of a sword or axe to sever the head, as opposed to ritualistically slow slaughter (kutha) in the halal method (dhabihah). Jhatka is the method of meat production demanded by most Hindus who eat meat, as this provides a quick and painless death to the animal. Both methods use sharp knives. In the Jhatka method, a swift uninterrupted cut severs the trachea, esophagus, carotid arteries, jugular veins, vagus nerves and the spine. In the Halal method, the slaughter is done with a swift deep incision with a sharp knife on the throat, cutting the jugular veins and carotid arteries of both sides but leaving the spinal cord and nervous tissue intact, followed by a period where the blood of the animal is drained out. A prayer to God is not required in the Jhatka method with each animal commercially slaughtered, but a prayer to God (Allah) is required at the start or if there is any interruption during Halal meat production.

Slaughter of a cow is considered heinous in Hinduism and has been a cause of Hindu-Muslim riots in India.

Politics and historical interaction[edit]

H.G. Rawlinson, in his book: Ancient and Medieval History of India[83] claims the first Arab Muslims settled on the Indian coast in the last part of the 7th century. It was however the subsequent expansion of the Turkish and Persian led Muslim conquest in the Indian subcontinent over the next millennium that significantly expanded the interaction of Islam with Hinduism.[84]

Peaceful cooperation[edit]

Translation of scriptures[edit]

The Mughal Emperor Akbar commissioned many Hindu masterpieces to be translated into Persian.[85]

Girish Chandra Sen, a Brahmo Samaj missionary, was the first person to produce the complete translation of the Qur'an into Bengali in 1886.[86]


Further information: Kazi Nazrul Islam

There have been instances of syncretic cooperation on music on Islamic and Hindu theme. The national poet of Bangladesh Kazi Nazrul Islam, for example, wrote a lot of Islamic devotional songs for the mainstream of Bengali folk music.[87] He also explored Hindu devotional music by composing Shama Sangeet, bhajans and kirtans, often merging Islamic and Hindu values. Nazrul's poetry and songs explored the philosophy of Islam and Hinduism.[88]

Religious violence[edit]

Further information: Religious violence in India

Historical records of religious violence are extensive for medieval India, in the form of corpus written by numerous Muslim historians. Will Durant states that Hindus were historically persecuted during Islamic rule of the Indian subcontinent.[89]

Recurrent clashes between Hindus and Muslims appear in the historical record during the Delhi Sultanate. They continued through the Mughal Empire, and then in the British colonial period.[90]

During the British period, religious affiliation became an issue ... Religious communities tended to become political constituencies. This was particularly true of the Muslim League created in 1905, which catered exclusively for the interests of the Muslims ... Purely Hindu organizations also appeared such as the Hindu Sabha (later Mahasabha) founded in 1915. In the meantime Hindu-Muslim riots became more frequent; but they were not a novelty, they are attested since the Delhi sultanate and were already a regular feature of the Mughal Empire .... When in 1947 he [Muhammad Ali Jinnah] became the first Governor General of Pakistan and the new border was demarcated, gigantic riots broke out between Hindus and Muslims.

— Marc Gaborieau, Anthropology Today[90]

There have been periodic instances of violence against Muslims in India from before its partition from Pakistan in 1947, frequently in the form of mob attacks on Muslims by Hindus that form a pattern of sporadic sectarian violence between the Hindu and Muslim communities. Over 10,000 people have been killed in Hindu-Muslim communal violence since 1950 in 6,933 instances of communal violence between 1954[95] and 1982.

The roots of violence against Muslims lie in India's history, stemming from lingering resentment toward the Islamic domination of India during the Middle Ages, policies established by the country's British colonizers, the violent partition of India into a Muslim Pakistan, and a secular India with a large but minority Muslim population.[undue weight?– discuss] Some scholars have described incidents of anti-Muslim violence as politically motivated and organized anti-Muslim violence are politically motivated and a part of the electoral strategy of mainstream political parties they called them pogroms or acts of genocide,[103] or a form of state terrorism with "organized political massacres"[104] rather than mere "riots".[105] Others argue that, although their community faces discrimination and violence, some Muslims have been highly successful, that the violence is not as widespread as it appears, but is restricted to certain urban areas because of local socio-political conditions, and there are many cities where Muslims and Hindus live peacefully together with almost no incidences of sectarian violence.

Contemporary interaction[edit]


India helped Bangladesh gain independence from Pakistan in 1971 AD. Various agencies, such as BBC, Associated Press and Reuters have reported periodic violence against Hindus by some Muslims in Bangladesh, and attempts by the Bangladeshi government to punish such violence.[107][108] For example, in early 2013, Hindu families were attacked and killed, as well as dozens of temples burnt/destroyed after the International Crimes Tribunal sentenced Delwar Hossain Sayeedi of the Jamaat-e-Islami to death for the war crimes committed during the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War.[109][110][111]


In the last 50 years after the Indian independence and partition, the Muslims in India have preferential treatment with their own Muslim Personal Law. Communal tensions between the Hindus and the Muslims have erupted many a times during this period. Notable incidents of this phenomenon include the demolition of the Babri Masjid (built on the sacred site of a demolished temple marking the birthplace of Lord Rāma) and the Gujarat riots of 2002. The Gujarat violence of 2002 is significant for recording the highest annual death toll in any event of Hindu-Muslim violence in a single state in the history of independent India: 790 Muslims and 254 Hindus were killed[112] following the murder of 59 innocent Hindu passengers mostly women and children allegedly by Muslim youths on a train near Godhra on 27 February. The incident that spurred the violence was when the Sabarmati Express train was attacked at Godhra allegedly by a Muslim mob and the coach carrying Hindu pilgrims, returning from Kar Seva at the site of the Babri Mosque, conflicting state enquiries established that the carriage was locked from outside and set on fire[113]

Hindu Muslim Antagonism In India Essay

Qinxin Ren

ANT 324

Prof. Van Hollen

October 26, 2013

Hindu-Muslim Antagonism in India

Over the past thirty years, the relationship between Hindus and Muslims in India has largely been marked by tensions and turbulence. Since the early 1980s, recurring communal violence between the top two religions of India has taken place in the form of intense public riots. The reason for such violence, as many scholars believe, lies primarily in the fundamentally different cultural and religious norms of Hinduism and Islam. And therefore, conflicts are generated by the two groups' "natural antagonism" toward each other as a result of the irreconcilability of such differences. However, this view is largely inconclusive, because in India, the way communalism is manifested is often shaped by economic and political factors, rather than being merely religious or cultural (Shani, 2011: 297-298).

By characterizing the relationship between Indian Hindus and Muslims as "naturally antagonistic", this aforementioned view is implying that, a mutual hostility between the two peoples is historically present regardless of the conditions and circumstances. However, this implication can be easily proven wrong. First of all, if Hindus and Muslims had always been hostile toward each other, it would follow that the process of interaction between the two religious communities is a historically violent one. But this is certainly not the case. In fact, Hindus and Muslims have shown that they are able to coexist peacefully, or even to form a "close intercommunity relationship" (Williams, 2011: 248-252). This relationship could be a product of necessary economic interactions, as is the case with the city of Varanasi, where the production of silk sari requires the cooperation of Hindus and Muslims (Williams, 2011: 250). Also, there is also a tendency for Muslims to bond more easily with Hindus who belong to a lower caste. For example, because of their socially considered inferior caste identities, there might be certain difficulties preventing a Hindu of lower caste from receiving barber services from fellow Hindus, who are members of higher castes. In such cases, caste discrimination could effectively drive people to seek social relationships with Muslims. In general, for regions where Muslims and Hindus who live geographically closer, there tends to exhibit an everyday living pattern of peaceful interaction and mutual dependence.

In addition, this view of interpreting communal violence is identified as a "culturalist" one; for it emphasizes only the part cultural and religious differences play in conflicts (Shani, 2011: 297-298). However, by doing that, it mistakenly rules out other contributive factors, such as the influence of politics and economy on communal interactions. By examining the cases of communal violence between Hindu and

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